We can all agree that winter is the bleakest of all seasons. The cold and short days get to all of us, and everyone starts to become drained and unexcited. It is easy to become unhappy with your life and lose the drive to work hard. Students start to become tired of everything: school, friends and even themselves. I am not implying that anyone should change themselves entirely, especially if the reason is to fit in with a different group of people. I do feel, however, that every person can make the small changes in their outlook on life that will make them happier. This winter, I have deliberately changed some of the things about myself that were weighing me down. My outlook on life, for example. Now, I live from each small victory to the next instead of waiting for huge, monumental differences in my life. I have started focusing on the small things that make me happy: getting a 92 on a quiz, finishing a good book, talking to someone I’ve always wanted to talk to, rearranging my room, getting involved with that club I’ve been too lazy to be involved with. Lowering the threshold – but not the quality – of my achievements, I not only allow myself be happier, I allow myself to focus on the quality of each achievement. By doing this, I create what I like to think of as the “rock climbing” approach. By reaching from each small achievement to the next, I’m always climbing up. And the more I do, the happier I am. This brings up the question, however, of whether or not altering yourself is right. This term, I have confronted many people who have expressed concern over my changes. My friends, parents and even house counselors have noticed that I am different and automatically assumed that something was wrong. Because I am a teenager, I suppose that adults would be concerned about any type of personal change. I find many adults confuse development with conforming. They probably thought I was changing to fit in, when, in reality, I was developing myself as a person. I have gotten worried looks, awkward hand-on-shoulder squeezes (I do not understand why people believe this is comforting) and even frank confrontations. Yet nothing is wrong. The truth is, I am happier now. So does it matter that I was not always like this? Is change not a natural, healthy part of life, especially in high school? Growing into one’s real self takes change, lots and lots of change. I do not feel as if I am forcing myself to become someone I am not. I am still Margaret, just a new, improved me. Here at Andover, any hardships students have allow us to grow in really important ways. The workload strengthens our ability to organize our lives. Living with people helps us learn how to balance our many-sided personalities. Being away from home teaches us how important it is to be independent yet still dependable. Yet we only learn how to do all this through development. Life is a matter of trial and error. While we cannot change our schoolwork or annoying friends, we can change ourselves. For better or for worse, it is the one thing we have complete control over. Hopefully I will continue to grow and change before I become an adult. Because honestly, I am a long way from being the person I want to be. Margaret Curtis is a new Lower from New York, NY.